It is believed that selfies have created a narcissistic society, Premuzic states “Showing-off has never been easier, and ironically, more celebrated”. Through celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Kayne West the acceptance of self-promotion and shallow views have become widely acknowledged and distributed across various social media sites like Facebook and Instagram often being accompanied by a shameless selfie. As fans we pine over their lifestyles trying to replicate their choices whether based on food, fashion or even opinions aiding towards self-delusion and loss of identity.
I for one am someone who loves a shameless-selfie, my Instagram account is full of them and if selfies weren’t widely promoted by others particularly those with status I probably wouldn’t post them either. Premuzic emphasises that we are more connected than ever but careless about other people, only concerned with their opinions of us. We waste time as a society capturing the perfect angle of our dinner that night, or roaming around our home for the ‘best’ lighting for our selfie, let alone the wasted minutes we dedicate in choosing the perfect filter and layout for our Instagram account ensuring there is a decent percentage of food, friends, fashion, travel and selfie images. We want to appear like we live a decent lifestyle even though a majority of us are broke university students often chained to a computer trying to meet that final deadline.
Evidently it begs the question are selfies controlling our image or losing control of it? To me selfies regardless of location or purpose are impacting on our identity. We are losing control of who we are and basing our images on the way we want others to perceive us. We are creating our own personal facade, its an escape mechanism and a way for us to redefine our lifestyles.
Hanna Kransnova of Humboldt University Berlin and co-author of ‘Envy on Facebook’ states “A photo can very powerfully provoke an immediate social comparison, and that can trigger feelings of inferiority. You don’t envy a news story”. As an Instagram user we often see ourselves in competition with our friends, our selfies are controlling us through our need for continuous self-promotion furthering us from reality and ourselves.
Status is no longer based purely on wealth or knowledge but rather popularity on social media aiding towards a hierarchy determined by visibility and attention, as reiterated by Alice E. Marwick author ‘Leaders and followers: Status in the Tech Scene’. This self-illusion is even witnessed in the technological scene of San Francisco. Individuals are more than willing to promote their vacations, exclusive events and perceived wealthy status achieved through their occupations rather than admit their often average income to their followers.
Tidenburg and Cruz, authors of ‘Selfies, Image and the Re-making of the Body’ make an important point when they state “Images play an important role in how we experience being in the world and increasingly, due to the ubiquity of online interaction, how we ‘shape’ our world”. The iconic selfie is no longer a simple ‘self-portrait’ it enables us to redefine how we are presented to friends, family and society. The selfie owns us, and coincidentally once posted it is owned by the world-wide web. Conclusively it is clear we no longer have control of our true identity to an extent because we have become more interested in how society views and perceives us rather than how we view ourselves.